Saugus.net

Some Free Software



A Guide To Free Software

This page is meant to serve as a guide to free (and almost free) software. For those unfamiliar with the concept of free software, one of the first thoughts might be "Sure, you get what you pay for...". In the case of free software, this is not true. There are numerous free software packages maintained by people who do it for the love of the science. There are also numerous free software packages maintained by universities and various educational facilities. There are even free software packages maintained by non-profit organizations set up for the purpose of creating, maintaining, and distributing free software (the most important of these is the Free Software Foundation headquartered right in Cambridge; their site is a good visit with lots of information on the principle of free and open source software). In all of these cases free software packages are often better than similar commercial versions costing hundreds of dollars. In most cases the maintainers of free software are also users, so they have good reason to keep the software bug free. The next question might be "Why haven't I heard of them before?" The answer is that since they are free, they don't spend money on advertising -- it is not a reflection on their quality.

In any case, the Internet is full of freeware, shareware, and software that is available for just the cost of the media, shipping, & handling. Other variants exist, too; some software authors provide their software freely but request that users make a donation to a particular charity. Other authors just request that users send them a postcard or a coin from their local area. Other variants (like crippleware & nagware) also exist.

This page will focus primarily on high quality freeware. If you know of something that we're missing, please let us know by . You may also find our Saugus.net open source software collection to be of interest.

Operating Systems

The first stop in obtaining free software is picking up an OS. Sure, your computer probably came with one pre-installed, but it was hardly for free -- typical pre-installed OSes actually cost you well over $100 in the machine purchase price. Plus, the free OSes are often more capable than the ones pre-installed. Finally, unlike some of the commercial OSes still being purchased, the free OSes are all Y2K clean. What do you do? Either request one of the free OSes be pre-installed when you initially buy your computer, or follow the instructions on your computer's software agreement to get a refund for the price of your pre-installed OS prior to using your computer. The following are some free (or nearly free) OSes:

BeOS
BeOS is not much like UNIX, making it nearly unique in this list. While traditional BeOS is also commercial and cannot be freely downloaded, there have been recent efforts to make a BeOS work-alike called variously OpenBeOS and Haiku. Traditional BeOS supports PowerPC and x86., but Haiku currently supports only x86
See also: http://www.be.com/products/,
http://haiku-os.org/,
http://open-beos.sourceforge.net/
FreeBSD
A free variant of Berkeley's UNIX, FreeBSD is similar to Linux in many respects and typical users would have trouble spotting the differences. Its advocates would argue that it has a better design than Linux, however; Linux advocates would argue that it is not as well supported. Regardless, FreeBSD currently only supports x86 and Alpha platforms (although rumor is a SPARC port is underway).
See also: http://www.freebsd.org/
FreeDOS
FreeDOS is an MS-DOS (or DR-DOS or PC-DOS) work-alike. It is one of the very few free OSes not inspired by UNIX. It runs on x86 systems.
See also: http://freedos.sourceforge.net/,
http://www.freedos.org/
The Hurd
Quickly becoming the most advanced OS on the planet, the Hurd is the GNU Project's OS. The Hurd behaves like UNIX outwardly but has some additional features under the hood. Note though that it is currently still in beta and does not yet support too many different platforms.
See also: http://www.gnu.org/software/hurd/
Linux
Possibly the world's most popular free OS, Linux is another UNIX work-alike designed to work along with the GNU Project. It supports many different hardware platforms, including x86, PowerPC, SPARC, Alpha, 68xx, and many more. Also, in spite of the fact that Linux is a free OS, numerous commercial software packages are now available for it in addition to the typical free packages.
See also: http://www.linux.org/
Net BSD
Another free variant of Berkeley's UNIX, NetBSD supports a far broader selection of hardware than FreeBSD. It supports x86, PowerPC, SPARC, Alpha, 6800, MIPS, and more. It is similar enough to Linux and FreeBSD that typical users would have trouble telling them apart.
See also: http://www.netbsd.org/
OpenBSD
Yet another free variant of Berkeley's UNIX, OpenBSD supports more hardware platforms than FreeBSD but fewer than NetBSD. It supports x86, PowerPC, SPARC, Alpha, 6800, and more. It is similar enough to Linux, FreeBSD, and NetBSD that typical users would find it hard to tell which is which.
See also: http://www.openbsd.org/
Solaris
Although a commercial version of UNIX, Solaris is free for personal or educational use. It can be directly downloaded or can also be obtained on CD or DVD for the cost of media, shipping, and handling. Solaris currently supports SPARC and x86; earlier versions also supported PowerPC.
See also: http://www.sun.com/solaris/,
http://www.opensolaris.org/

Window Managers

The second step is getting a window manager. Most modern OSes separate the window manager from the OS proper. This allows individual users to taylor their environments to their tastes. Making a machine Mac-like, MS-Windows-like, or even Amiga-like is just a matter of dropping in the appropriate window manager. Note that most of the OS distributions above will come with a window manager or two so you can get started right away without going through this step. This step is mentioned here so that when you want to expand your horizons, you'll know where to look. Note that virtually all of these window managers (and many of the other free software packages mentioned later) are designed to run on top of a software package called X-Windows (or "X" for short). Details on how to get X are listed here, too.

GNOME
The GNU Network Object Model Environment works on top of GTK to provide a friendly graphical interface, going beyond the typical window manager. Many applications require GNOME.
See also: http://www.gnome.org/
GTK
The GIMP Toolkit works on top of X-Windows to provide even more capabilities.
See also: http://www.gtk.org/
KDE
The K Desktop Environment works on top of X-Windows to provide a friendly graphical desktop interface, going beyond the typical window manager. Many applications require KDE.
See also: http://www.kde.org/
LessTif
LessTif works on top of X-Windows to provide even more capabilities; in particular it provides the same capabilities as the commercial Motif.
See also: http://www.lesstif.org/
MI/X
X-Windows for MS-Windows and Mac OS users.
See also: http://www.microimages.com/freestuf/mix/
Window Managers Guide
A site dedicated to the wide variety of window managers available today with links to the primary developer / download sites for each in addition to some screen shots.
See also: http://www.xwinman.org/
X11.org
Lots of information on both X itself and X window managers, plus of course download areas.
See also: http://www.x11.org/
XFree86
X-Windows for UNIX, Mac OS X, and OS/2 users.
See also: http://www.xfree86.org/

Browsers

One of the most useful things to put on any machine is a browser. After all, much of the documentation for free software is available online on the web! Fortunately, there is a bevy of free browsers available.

Amaya
Amaya runs on Windows '95 / '98 / NT / 2K / XP / Vista, Solaris, Linux, Mac OS X, HP-UX, IRIX, Digital UNIX, FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, and more. It offers the most advanced HTML support of all the browsers.
See also: http://www.w3.org/Amaya/
Arena
The only browser besides Amaya to properly handle math equations in web pages, Amaya is currently only available as source for UNIX-like systems with X in its latest version (earlier versions can be obtained as binaries, too).
See also: http://www.yggdrasil.com/Products/Arena/
Camino
Camino is a lot like Firefox but is available only for Mac OS X and takes advantage of features only available on that platform.
See also: http://www.mozilla.org/products/camino/,
http://www.caminobrowser.org/
Cyberdog
Cyberdog has numerous interesting features but runs only under Mac OS. Although official Cyberdog development officially ended relatively recently, the user community has taken over and continues to expand its horizons.
See also: http://www.cyberdog.org/
Firefox
Essentially a lightweight version of Mozilla optimized for browsing, Firefox is quickly becoming one of the most popular browsers in use today. It is known for being fast, secure, and feature rich, and it runs on most OSes.
See also: http://www.mozilla.org/products/firefox/,
http://gnusto.mozdev.org/,
http://www.mozilla.org/projects/calendar/,
http://gopher.floodgap.com/overbite/,
https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/,
http://www.newtonslibrary.org/nbrdr/,
http://earth-api-samples.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/demos/helloearth/
Flock
Flock is basically a version of Firefox optimized to work with various online resources including blogs. It is available for Linux, recent versions of MS-Windows, and Mac OS X.
See also: http://www.flock.com/developer/,
http://www.flock.com/
HotJava
HotJava runs on Windows '95 / '98, Windows NT, Mac OS, Solaris, and pretty much any other computer with a Java virtual machine. Prior to being end-of-lifed, it offered the most advanced Java support of all the browsers.
See also: http://java.sun.com/products/hotjava/
iCab
Currently available only for Mac OS (both PowerPC and 68K versions) and Mac OS X, iCab is a fairly solid browser that does many things well and a few things poorly. It has both free and commercial versions.
See also: http://www.icab.de/download.html
Konqueror
Konqueror is a modern graphical browser available for Linux and other UNIX-like OSes.
See also: http://www.konqueror.org/
Links
Heavily inspired by Lynx, Links is a browser that can run in either text-only or graphical modes.
See also: http://atrey.karlin.mff.cuni.cz/~clock/twibright/links/
Lynx
The king of all the text-only browsers, Lynx will run on almost every OS and remains one of the most popular browsers overall. While it does not display inline web graphics onscreen, it does allow their selective download, and is in every other way a sophisticated and modern browser. Lynx is also extremely fast.
See also: http://lynx.browser.org/
Microsoft Internet Explorer
One of the two most popular browsers in use today, MSIE runs on fewer OSes than Netscape. It only supports Windows '95 / '98, Windows NT, Windows CE, Mac OS (both X and classic), Solaris, and HP-UX.
See also: http://www.microsoft.com/unix/ie/default.asp
Mozilla
Arguably the most feature-rich and standards-compliant of all the browsers, Mozilla is essentially a more advanced version of Netscape. Mozilla will run on most OSes, including Windows '95 / '98, Windows NT, Windows XP, Windows 3.1, Mac OS (both classic and X), Linux, Solaris, HP-UX, IRIX, Digital UNIX, FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, OS/2, and more.
See also: http://www.mozilla.org/,
http://www.mozilla.org/releases/,
http://www.mozilla.org/projects/seamonkey/,
http://www.mozilla.org/projects/calendar/,
https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/seamonkey/
Netscape
One of the most popular browsers in use today, Netscape is also one of the most feature-rich and offers the most advanced JavaScript support of all the browsers. Be sure to also take a peek at Mozilla to learn about future Netscape directions and try out upcoming betas. Netscape will run on most OSes, including Windows '95 / '98, Windows NT, Windows 3.1, Mac OS (both classic and X), Linux, Solaris, HP-UX, IRIX, Digital UNIX, FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, OS/2, and more. It can be used for both browsing the web and gopherspace.
See also: http://www.netscape.com/computing/download/
Opera
Opera runs on Linux, Windows '95 / '98, Windows NT, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Solaris, Mac OS X, Mac OS 9, FreeBSD, and more. It is quite possibly the fastest of all the graphical browsers.
See also: http://www.opera.com/
Safari
Safari runs on Mac OS X, Windows XP, and Windows Vista and is a solid standards-compliant browser known for quick rendering of pages.
See also: http://www.apple.com/safari/

E-Mail and News Clients

For many people, e-mail is as important as the telephone and Usenet news is a handy source of information on numerous topics. They are grouped together here because it is very common for one application to feature both capabilities. Also, even though they're not really the same thing, news aggregators (for RSS feeds) are so frequently equated with news readers (for Usenet), we'll include news aggregators here too figuring that we'd only be adding to the confusion if we did otherwise.

Mahogany
Mahogany is an extremely capable e-mail and Usenet news client. It has powerful spam blocking and can even have many of its features automated via Python commands. It will run on most versions of UNIX, Mac OS X, and most recent versions of MS-Windows.
See also: http://mahogany.sourceforge.net/
Pine
The Program for Internet News and E-mail (commonly known as "Pine") is a textual e-mail and Usenet news client. In spite of it being text-only, it is so feature-rich and capable it remains extremely popular. Many people who have to deal with thousands of e-mail messages per day choose Pine for its speed and efficiency.
See also: http://www.washington.edu/pine/
RSSOwl
RSSOwl is an RSS news aggregator written in Java. It will run on any machine with Java installed.
See also: http://www.rssowl.org/
Thunderbird
Thunderbird can be used for both e-mail and Usenet news. It is lightweight and secure, and has powerful spam filtering capabilities. It can also work with iCalendar information via a special plug-in.
See also: http://www.mozilla.org/products/thunderbird/,
http://www.mozilla.org/projects/calendar/lightning/,
https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/thunderbird/

Office Software

Most people need at least some of the software traditionally used in the office. Such software includes word processors, spreadsheets, text editors, and database programs. (Note that simple drawing programs will be covered elsewhere.)

AbiWord
AbiWord is a full-featured word processor that runs on most UNIX-like systems, BeOS, Windows '95 / '98, Windows NT / 2K / XP, Windows Vista, and Mac OS X.
See also: http://www.abisource.com/products.phtml
Acrobat Reader
Acrobat (PDF) is the current standard in portable documents; Adobe provides a free reader for Windows 95 / 98, Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows 3.1, Windows Vista, Mac OS (both classic and X), OS/2, and most UNIX-like systems.
See also: http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html
BBEdit Lite
BBEdit Lite is a free version of the popular BBEdit text editor. The BBEdit family of editors is often listed among the most frequently used tools for web page composition. It is available for Mac OS (both classic and X) only.
See also: http://www.bbedit.com/free/free.html
Chandler
Chandler is a full-featured PIM. Designed to run on most flavors of MS-Windows as well as Mac OS X and Linux, it will also run on most other UNIX-like systems. Everything in Chandler is integrated together to better enable information organization; included are a capable calendar (with iCalendar support), address book, bookmarks holder, etc. plus an e-mail application.
See also: http://www.osafoundation.org/OSAF_Our_Vision.htm,
http://wiki.osafoundation.org/twiki/bin/view/Chandler/GettingChandler
Emacs
Although Emacs is one of the world's most popular text editors, it is not just a text editor. In fact, it can do almost anything from simple text editing to e-mail handling to web browsing, and can do it all in almost every world language. What's more, it supports most OSes.
See also: http://www.gnu.org/software/emacs/
Ghostscript
Ghostscript is an interpreter for both PostScript and PDF files. Versions are available for OS/2, Windows 95 / 98, Windows NT, Mac OS, VMS, and most UNIX-like systems.
See also: http://www.cs.wisc.edu/~ghost/
Gnumeric
Gnumeric is the GNU Project's second speadsheet program and will easily run on most UNIX-like machines that have GNOME installed.
See also: http://www.gnu.org/software/gnumeric/
KOffice
KOffice is a suite of programs that run on top of KDE. It includes a word processor, a spreadsheet program, an illustrator program, an image editor, a presentation program, and more.
See also: http://koffice.kde.org/
LyX
LyX is a WYSIWYM document processor; with it the author focuses on the structure of the documents, not their appearance. LyX currently runs on most UNIX-like systems, OS/2, Mac OS X, and Windows NT. It requires some form of TEX in order to work.
See also: http://www.lyx.org/
NEdit
The Nirvana Editor is another extremely popular text editor. NEdit is currently available only for UNIX-like machines, Mac OS X, and Windows NT.
See also: http://www.nedit.org/
Oleo
Oleo is the GNU Project's original speadsheet program and will easily run on most UNIX-like machines.
See also: http://www.gnu.org/software/oleo/
OpenOffice
OpenOffice (originally StarDivision's StarOffice but acquired and modified by Sun Microsystems) is completely free, offers 100% binary compatibility with MS-Office data files, and works on far more machines than MS-Office does. It currently runs on Windows '95 / '98, Windows NT / 2K, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Solaris, Mac OS X, Linux, JavaOS, OS/2, etc.
See also: http://www.openoffice.org/,
http://www.neooffice.org/
PostgreSQL
One of the most advanced database applications available today, PostgreSQL fuses the power of Postgres with standard SQL. PostgreSQL is currently available only for UNIX-like machines and Mac OS X, but numerous programs exist to help users with other machine types (MS-Windows, etc.) connect to PostgreSQL databases.
See also: http://www.postgresql.org/
Scribus
Scribus is a free desktop publishing application that runs on Linux (and most other UNIX-like systems).
See also: http://www.scribus.net/
SQL
Like PostgreSQL, GNU SQL is an advanced database application that will run on most UNIX-like machines.
See also: http://www.ispras.ru/~kml/gss/
SubEthaEdit
SubEthaEdit is a text editor with a twist -- it is designed for collaborative work over an intranet or even over the Internet. It is available for Mac OS X only.
See also: http://www.codingmonkeys.de/subethaedit/
Sunbird
The Sunbird application is meant to serve as a companion to Firefox and Thunderbird; it handles iCalendar data and general tracking of to-do items, meetings, appointments, and other scheduling information.
See also: http://www.mozilla.org/projects/calendar/sunbird.html,
https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/sunbird/
teTeX
teTeX is a complete TEX/LaTEX distribution for UNIX-like systems.
See also: http://www.tug.org/
vile
vile stands for VI-like Emacs. It combines a little of each but mostly behaves like VI plus and minus a few different features. It is available for many different OSes, but finding pre-built binaries for particular systems is often a challenge.
See also: http://www.clark.net/pub/dickey/vile/vile.html
VIM
VIM stands for VI Improved. VI is a standard editor that comes with most UNIX applications. VIM works mostly like VI but introduces some advanced features. It supports most OSes.
See also: http://www.vim.org/
Yudit
The (Y)unicode editor is available for UNIX-like machines, Mac OS X, and some flavors of MS-Windows. It's a text editor with full Unicode support.
See also: http://www.yudit.org/

Graphics Applications

Ranging from simple drawing programs to full-featured 3D image manipulation systems, graphics applications fill diverse needs including: presentations, modeling, animations, etc.

Art of Illusion
Want to make some simple 3D pictures? The Art of Illusion application is written in Java and will thus run in any machine that has a Java virtual machine installed.
See also: http://www.artofillusion.org/
Blender
Blender is used for 3D modeling and animation. It is available for Windows '98, Windows ME, Windows XP, Windows NT, Mac OS X, Linux, Solaris, FreeBSD, and more.
See also: http://www.blender.org/
The GIMP
The GIMP is one of the best image manipulation / composition applications anywhere; it stands for GNU image manipulation program. While it is true that PhotoShop can do some things the GIMP cannot, it is also true the GIMP can do some things PhotoShop cannot. The GIMP is available for pretty much every UNIX-like OS and Mac OS X.
See also: http://www.gimp.org/,
http://ingimp.org/
gPhoto
Makes it possible and easy to interface a digital camera to a UNIX-like system.
See also: http://www.gphoto.org/
GraphicsMagick
GraphicsMagick is similar to ImageMagick; it provides sophisticated image controls and impressive special effects capabilities for computer graphics work. It is available for pretty much every UNIX-like OS, Windows NT, Windows '95 / '98, and Mac OS.
See also: http://www.graphicsmagick.org/
ImageMagick
ImageMagick is similar to GraphicsMagick; it provides sophisticated image controls and impressive special effects capabilities for computer graphics work. It is available for pretty much every UNIX-like OS, Windows NT, Windows '95 / '98, and Mac OS.
See also: http://www.imagemagick.org/
Inkscape
Inkscape is a scalable vector graphics editor, that is, an application more similar to Illustrator or CorelDraw than Photoshop. It is available for most UNIX-like OSes, most flavors of MS-Windows, and Mac OS X.
See also: http://www.inkscape.org/
Jahshaka
Jahshaka is a realtime editing and effects system, similar to Apple's Final Cut Pro or Adobe's Premiere. It runs on Linux, Irix, Mac OS X, Solaris, and MS-Windows.
See also: http://www.jahshaka.com/
POV-Ray
Want to try your hand at some complex 3D modeling or do you just want to make some simple 3D pictures? Either way, the "Persistence of Vision Raytracer" is the tool to get the job done. It is available for Windows '95 / '98, Windows NT / 2K / XP, Windows Vista, Mac OS, MS-DOS, Linux, Solaris, AmigaOS, and more.
See also: http://www.povray.org/
PV-DC1000 Drivers
Interface a PV-DC1000 digital camera to a UNIX-like or BeOS system.
See also: http://www.df.lth.se/~roubert/dc1000/
SANE
Makes it possible and easy to interface a scanner to a UNIX-like or OS/2 system.
See also: http://www.mostang.com/sane/
Sodipodi
Sodipodi is a drawing program, more similar in concept to Illustrator or CorelDraw than PhotoShop.
See also: http://sourceforge.net/projects/sodipodi/
Xmorph
Ever wonder how movies morph one image into another? Xmorph is a program that does it on any UNIX-like system with X-Windows.
See also: http://xmorph.sourceforge.net/
XPaint
A fairly simple, easy-to-use painting package that runs on pretty much every UNIX-like OS with X-Windows.
See also: http://sourceforge.net/projects/sf-xpaint/

Sound Applications

Ranging from simple audio CD players to powerful sound waveform editors, sound applications can be used for entertainment or work.

cdcd
A command-line audio CD player for UNIX-like systems with built-in support of CD recognition via CDDB.
See also: http://cdcd.undergrid.net/
maplay
maplay plays audio layer one and two MPEG files or streams on UNIX-type systems.
See also: http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/Vista/3141/maplay.html
MikMod
A module player for MS-Windows, Mac OS (both classic and X), UNIX, AmigaOS, and OS/2.
See also: http://mikmod.raphnet.net/
mpeg3play
mpeg3play plays audio layer two and three MPEG files or streams on UNIX-type systems.
See also: http://www.geocities.com/~johanh/#mpeg3play
Playmidi
A MIDI player for UNIX-like systems.
See also: http://playmidi.sourceforge.net/
Rosegarden
A full-featured MIDI sequencer / musical notation editor for UNIX-like machines.
See also: http://www.rosegardenmusic.com/
SIDPLAY
A SID player for MS-Windows, Mac OS, UNIX, AmigaOS, OS/2, and BeOS.
See also: http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/Lakes/5147/sidplay/,
http://sourceforge.net/projects/sidplay2/,
http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/Lakes/5147/resid/,
http://www.sidmusic.org/sidplay/mac/
SoundTracker
A full-featured tracker application allowing the editing and selective combination of different sound samples on different tracks for UNIX-like machines.
See also: http://www.soundtracker.org/
WorkMan
Another very popular audio CD player, WorkMan has built-in support of CD recognition via a downloadable / customizable database. It is available for most UNIX-like systems.
See also: http://www.midwinter.com/workman/,
http://www.mathematik.uni-ulm.de/help/workman/
xmcd
One of the most popular audio CD players, xmcd has built-in support of CD recognition via CDDB. It is available for pretty much every UNIX-like system running some flavor of Motif.
See also: http://metalab.unc.edu/tkan/xmcd/
xmms
xmms is a UNIX application for playing audio MPEGs, modules, simple audio files, WAVE files, and audio CDs.
See also: http://www.xmms.org/
xplay
xplay is an application for playing simple audio, WAVE, and AIFF files on UNIX-like machines.
See also: http://itre.ncsu.edu/xplay/,
http://sunsite.tus.ac.jp/pub/multimedia/utilities/unix/

Multimedia Applications

While multimedia is somewhat of an ill-defined term, it will be used here to cover applications that are capable of handling a combination of media types, especially video.

Flash
Macromedia offers a free Flash Player application with relatively current versions for Linux, Mac OS, Windows '95 / '98, and Windows NT. It also offers Flash Player and Flash Generator source code to facilitate free porting to other platforms.
See also: http://www.macromedia.com/software/flash/open/licensing/,
http://www.macromedia.com/shockwave/download/
Gnash
Gnash is a free Flash Player application for Solaris, Linux, IRIX, Mac OS X, and other UNIX-like systems. It is part of the GNU project.
See also: http://www.gnu.org/software/gnash/
Mpeg Player
Mpeg Player plays MPEG video files on UNIX-like systems.
See also: http://www.geom.umn.edu/software/mpeg_play/
MPlayer
MPlayer is primarily designed to play movies on Linux systems, but it has been ported to run on most other UNIX-like systems, too.
See also: http://www.mplayerhq.hu/
MythTV
A free PVR system built for Linux and other UNIX-like OSes running on machines with at least one video capture card installed.
See also: http://www.mythtv.org/
QuickTime
A full multimedia player that handles various types of movies, animations, loops, still images, sounds, and more. It's for display / playback only, not for editing. It is currently only available for Windows 95 / 98, Windows NT, Windows 2000, and Mac OS. Some UNIX versions in the near future have been rumored, but have yet to surface.
See also: http://www.apple.com/quicktime/download/
RealPlayer
The RealPlayer Basic will run on Windows 95 / 98, Windows 2000, Windows NT, Mac OS, Linux, Solaris, IRIX, and AIX.
See also: http://www.real.com/player/
ShowMe TV
The ShowMe TV suite actually consists of two free programs that can be used independently. ShowMe TV Receiver is a typical multimedia player application; it can play numerous types of movies, animations, sounds, and more. ShowMe TV Transmitter is used for broadcasting digital video and audio over a network. ShowMe TV is available only for Solaris.
See also: http://www.sun.com/desktop/products/software/ShowMeTV/
VLC
The VideoLAN Client media player can handle numerous types of movies, animations, and sounds. It is available for many platforms, including several flavors of MS-Windows, Mac OS X, several flavors of UNIX, and even some PDAs.
See also: http://www.videolan.org/vlc/
Windows Media Player
Windows Media Player will run on Windows 95 / 98, Windows NT, Windows 2000, some flavors of Windows CE, Mac OS, and Solaris.
See also: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/players.asp
XAnim
XAnim handles numerous types of movies, animations, and loops. It's for display / playback only, not for editing. It is available for pretty much every UNIX-like OS.
See also: http://smurfland.cit.buffalo.edu/xanim/
xine
Linux, Solaris, Irix, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, and Mac OS X are currently supported by this free multimedia player. Besides being able to play CDs, VCDs, and DVDs, xine can handle several multimedia file formats as well.
See also: http://xinehq.de/

Middleware

A machine's capabilities can be extended with middleware. While a particular application may not be available for free for your platform, it may be freely available to run on top of middleware that is available for free.

Java Runtime Environment
The Java Runtime Environment (JRE) for MS-Windows, Solaris, and Linux. It'll allow the running of Java programs.
See also: http://java.sun.com/j2se/1.4/
Kaffe
An open source Java Runtime Environment. While originally just for UNIX systems, ports are available for numerous other systems as well.
See also: http://www.kaffe.org/
Mac OS Runtime for Java
The Java Runtime Environment for Mac OS (MRJ). It'll allow the running of Java programs.
See also: http://www.apple.com/java/
Tcl/Tk Plug-in
Will allow the running of Tcl/Tk programs under UNIX, Mac OS, Windows '95 / '98, and Windows NT.
See also: http://www.scriptics.com/software/plugin/

Utilities

While utilities do not typically fit comfortably into any of the other productivity categories, they are indispensable. They include programs to convert between text and binary (like implementations of uucode and bcode), programs to package or separate files (like implementations of tar), and programs to handle compression in its different forms. Odds are good that you'll need some of the programs from this list in order to successfully install many of the other programs on this list.

bzip2
bzip2 is a compression program much like gzip. It includes software for both compressing and decompressing and handles just the bzip2 format, typically the most efficient format in common use (somewhat more efficient than gzip and hqx, much more efficient than zip).
See also: http://sourceware.cygnus.com/bzip2/
Gzip
Gzip is a compression program; it will take a single file and reduce the amount of space it requires to make for faster transfer or more efficient archiving. It is often used in conjunction with some flavor of tar. It includes software for both compressing and decompressing, and can handle its own native gzip format in addition to the older compress format. The gzip format is extremely popular online, and tends to be more efficient than the zip format but less efficient than the bzip2 format. Gzip is available for all flavors of UNIX, both flavors of Mac OS, most flavors of MS-Windows, and MS-DOS.
See also: http://www.gnu.org/software/gzip/
Stuffit Expander
Stuffit Expander is a program that is capable of undoing most of the encoding / packaging done for downloading / e-mailing. It will work on most flavors of MS-Windows, Mac OS (both X and classic), Linux, and Solaris. It has the ability to unzip, unstuff, ungzip, unbzip, uncompress, uncompact, unarc, unlharc, unrar, uudecode, untar, and disentangle several other processed formats besides.
See also: http://www.stuffit.com/expander/
Tar
The purpose of the tar program is to bind quantities of files together into a single file for easier transfer or archiving, and unbind them afterwards when needed. It will work on all flavors of UNIX, most flavors of MS-Windows, and both flavors of Mac OS.
See also: http://www.gnu.org/software/tar/

Games

One of the most popular types of applications for computers, games entertain both the computer novice and pro alike. Not all games are expensive; some of the best available can be found for free.

Adonthell
A role-playing game for most Unix-like systems.
See also: http://adonthell.linuxgames.com/
Angband
The classic Angband game will run under most UNIX-like OSes, but is currently available only as source.
See also: http://www.phial.com/angband/
Armagetron
Armagetron is a 3D Tron game that will run under most UNIX-like OSes, Mac OS X, and recent versions of MS-Windows.
See also: http://www.armagetronad.net/
Chess
The classic game Chess written for UNIX-like machines, Windows '95 / '98, and Mac OS.
See also: http://www.gnu.org/software/chess/
Doom It Yourself
The popular shoot-'em-up game will run on most UNIX-like machines.
See also: http://www.forwiss.tu-muenchen.de/~dehmel/DIY.html
Egoboo
Egoboo is a 3D action RPG that will run under most UNIX-like OSes, Mac OS X, and recent versions of MS-Windows.
See also: http://egoboo.sourceforge.net/
Freeciv
A Civilization II play-alike that will run under most UNIX-like systems, Win '95/'98, OS/2, and AmigaOS.
See also: http://www.freeciv.org/
Frets on Fire
A music game for most Unix-like systems, Mac OS X, and some versions of MS-Windows.
See also: http://fretsonfire.sourceforge.net/
GFingerPoken
A black-box type game for most Unix-like systems.
See also: http://gfpoken.bigw.org/
GNU Go
The classic game Go written for UNIX-like machines, Mac OS, Windows '95 / '98, and JavaOS.
See also: http://www.gnu.org/software/gnugo/
IF-Archive
Hundreds of interactive fiction files to use with XZip or similar players.
See also: http://www.ifarchive.org/indexes/if-archive.html
KOULES
An arcade type game for most Unix-like systems and OS/2.
See also: http://www.paru.cas.cz/~hubicka/koules/English/koules.html
Liquid War
A multiplayer war game for MS-DOS, UNIX-like systems, and Win '95/'98.
See also: http://www.ufoot.org/liquidwar/
MAngband
A multi-player online version of Angband. It will run under most UNIX-like OSes, AmigaOS, Win '95/'98, and OS/2.
See also: http://www.mangband.org/
NetHack
The classic NetHack game will run under most UNIX-like OSes, Mac OS, OS/2, MS-DOS, Win 3.1, Win '95/'98, Win NT, and Win 2000.
See also: http://www.nethack.org/
Netrek
The classic space battle game Netrek will run under most UNIX-like OSes, Mac OS X, and Win XP.
See also: http://www.netrek.org/,
http://mactrek.sourceforge.net/
Neverball
An action puzzle game for Mac OS X, and most MS-Windows and Unix-like systems.
See also: http://icculus.org/neverball/
NiL
An arcade type game for most UNIX-like systems.
See also: http://nil.sourceforge.net/
OpenRPG
A program that will allow the playing of essentially any role playing game over a network. Runs on any machine with Python.
See also: http://www.openrpg.com/
Parsec
Network space combat for Mac OS (both X and classic), Windows '95 / '98, and x86 Linux.
See also: http://www.parsec.org/
Pingus
An arcade type game for some Unix-like systems.
See also: http://dark.x.dtu.dk/~grumbel/pingus/
Quake
The popular Quake game will run under Solaris.
See also: http://www.planetquake.com/eclipse/download.shtml
Spellcast
A game of duelling wizards; predates Magic: The Gathering but plays in a somewhat similar manner. Runs on any UNIX-like system, and even has rules for playing with just pencil and paper.
See also: http://eblong.com/zarf/spellcast.html
VDrift
This driving simulation features numerous cars, several tracks, networked play, and realistic physics. It is available for UNIX-like OSes and Mac OS X.
See also: http://vdrift.net/
WorldForge
An online roleplaying game; source versions in C++ and Java are available.
See also: http://www.worldforge.org/
Xconq
A world conquest strategy game available for most UNIX-like machines, Mac OS, Windows '95 / '98, and Windows NT. It supports playing against opponents over a network.
See also: http://sources.redhat.com/xconq/,
http://xconq.sourceforge.net/
XPilot
The classic XPilot game will run under most UNIX-like OSes, and Win '95/'98.
See also: http://www.xpilot.org/
xscorch
An arcade type game for most Unix-like systems; note that it requires GTK.
See also: http://velius.chaos2.org/xscorch/
xshogi
The classic Japanese game Shogi written for UNIX-like machines running X-Windows.
See also: http://www.gnu.org/software/xshogi/
XZip
A program that runs text adventures written in the Infocom Z-code game format. Available for UNIX-like machines with X-Windows and Mac OS. Note that the Mac OS version is actually called MaxZip rather than XZip.
See also: http://www.eblong.com/zarf/xzip.html

Programming

A great deal of free software has been created to assist in programming. Whole software development environments are available as well as programming languages and simple frameworks to help one get a jump-start on a particular task.

Apple JDK
The Java Developer's Kit for Macintosh features everything required to develop Java programs under Mac OS.
See also: http://developer.apple.com/java/
Crystal Space
Crystal Space is a 3D engine used primarily to build games, but can be used for any application needing 3D graphic manipulations. It supports UNIX-like machines, Windows NT, Windows '95 / '98, Mac OS, BeOS, OS/2, and more.
See also: http://crystal.linuxgames.com/
GCC
The GNU Compiler Collection features compilers for C, C++, ForTran, Java, and more. They are all extremely high-quality compilers capable of being used for robust commercial development.
See also: http://gcc.gnu.org/
GridSlammer
GridSlammer is an engine used to build video games. It supports UNIX-like machines, Windows NT, and Windows '95 / '98.
See also: http://www.gridslammer.org/
Inform
Everything needed to develop Inform applications is freely downloadable and available for most flavors of UNIX, most flavors of MS-Windows, Mac OS, OS/2, all flavors of DOS, Amiga, BeOS, and more.
See also: http://www.inform-fiction.org/,
http://www.inform-fiction.org/inform6.html
JDK
The Java Developer's Kit features everything required to develop Java programs under Solaris, Linux, or various flavors of MS-Windows.
See also: http://java.sun.com/j2se/1.4/
Mesa 3D
Mesa 3D is an OpenGL work-alike used primarily to build or support games, but can be used for any application needing 3D graphic manipulations. It supports UNIX-like machines, Windows NT, Windows '95 / '98, Mac OS, BeOS, OS/2, and more.
See also: http://www.mesa3d.org/
MPW
The Macintosh Programmer's Workshop features compilers for C, C++, and Pascal. They are all extremely high-quality compilers capable of being used for robust commercial development (with the exception of Pascal, which has been obsoleted). Apple itself uses the MPW for its own classic Mac OS software development.
See also: http://developer.apple.com/tools/mpw-tools/
Perl
Everything needed to develop Perl applications is freely downloadable and available for most flavors of UNIX, most flavors of MS-Windows, both flavors of Mac OS, OS/2, DOS, Amiga, BeOS, and more.
See also: http://www.cpan.org/
Python
Everything needed to develop Python applications is freely downloadable and available for most flavors of UNIX, most flavors of MS-Windows, both flavors of Mac OS, OS/2, DOS, Amiga, BeOS, and more.
See also: http://www.python.org/
Quesa
Quesa is a QuickDraw work-alike (a high-level 3D graphics library built to work on top of OpenGL, and can be used for any application needing 3D graphic manipulations. It supports UNIX-like machines, Windows NT, Windows '95 / '98, Mac OS (both classic and X), and BeOS.
See also: http://www.quesa.org/
Ruby
Everything needed to develop Ruby applications is freely downloadable and available for most flavors of UNIX, some flavors of MS-Windows, both flavors of Mac OS, BeOS, Amiga, OS/2, and more.
See also: http://www.ruby-lang.org/
Scratch
Scratch is an educational programming environment developed at MIT.
See also: http://scratch.mit.edu/
SDL
The Simple DirectMedia Layer is an engine used primarily to build games, but can be used for any application needing portable graphic manipulations. It supports UNIX-like machines, Windows NT, Windows '95 / '98, Mac OS, BeOS, OS/2, and more.
See also: http://www.devolution.com/~slouken/SDL/
Tcl/Tk
The Tool Command Language and its GUI toolkit (Tcl/Tk) are widely used on all flavors of UNIX, all flavors of MS-Windows, and Mac OS. While Tcl is particularly used for integrating other programs, Tk is used everywhere as a general-purpose GUI library used for building all manner of programs in all manner of languages.
See also: http://www.scriptics.com/software/tcltk/

Collections

Some sites offer collections of software rather than a particular program, and this Free Software Guide would not be complete if it omitted them.

CNET Downloads
A large collection of software for Mac OS, Windows '95/'98, Linux, Palm, Windows CE, and EPOC. This site is much like a less extensive version of Tucows -- the downloader must be a little careful as not all software on the site is freeware; shareware, crippleware, nagware, and commercial software demos also abound.
See also: http://download.cnet.com/
Freshmeat
A large collection of software for UNIX type systems. The focus is on open source software; quality level varies tremendously, so the downloader should be a little wary.
See also: http://www.freshmeat.net/
Georgie's Solarcade
Precompiled binaries for Solaris UltraSPARC systems. The binaries primarily consist of games but also feature some utilities.
See also: http://come.to/georgie/
The GNU Software Collection
The Free Software Foundation has made a vast assortment of extremely high-quality software available for free download as part of its GNU Project.
See also: http://www.gnu.org/software/
Mac OS Open Source Software
A collection of Mac OS open source software from a large variety of different sources covering several categories.
See also: http://www.opensourcemac.org/
Sunfreeware -- Freeware for Solaris
A collection of hundreds of different software packages for Solaris systems. The software packages themselves vary from productivity applications to games.
See also: http://www.sunfreeware.com/
Tucows Downloads
A large collection of software for Mac OS, all flavors of MS-Windows, OS/2, BeOS, Linux, Newton, Palm, EPOC, and more. The downloader must be a little careful though as not all software on Tucows is freeware; shareware, crippleware, nagware, and commercial software demos also live on this site.
See also: http://www.tucows.com/
XO Activities
The OLPC Project maintains a page of free software packaged for the XO laptop.
See also: http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Activities

More coming soon...

The above list should get you started. More will be coming soon; we'll be adding in some games plus a few general sites offering all manner of software. What else would you like to see? Don't be afraid to let us know and we'll try and add it to the list.




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